Dan Tudor

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The Hidden Message in Your Upcoming Recruiting CallMonday, June 28th, 2010

Many of you will have some pretty big phone calls to make later this week.

The first phone calls to a new class or recruits.  And if you don’t in July, you will shortly after that, depending upon your sport.

Today’s edition is not going to focus on the how-to “nuts and bolts” of making successful phone calls.  We’ve done that in the past…here, here and a great one from last week here.

What I want to focus on today is a bigger picture aspect of your recruiting message that applies to your phone calls, as well as your emails, letters, campus visits…everything about the overall impression you give your prospect as you communicate with them.

It’s the importance of a consistent message.  One that makes sense.  And, I’ve got a pretty interesting study to back up my assertions…

The study was done by psychologist Geoffrey Miller, who studied how we as individuals communicate our individual purchases to others, and why.

For example, as the study showed, younger males will often display aggressive behavior to young females in order to establish social dominance in the initial stages of a relationship.  Later, however, those same males need to move from being aggressive to being agreeable in order to show that they have “staying power”…that they will be a good long-term mate.

So if the study is true – as I think it is – products that appeal to a younger males aggressive side are going to do great.  For example, if I was manufacturing a body spray for guys and named it “Sweet”, it probably wouldn’t sell.  That doesn’t match their natural personalities.  However, the people who manufacture “Axe” nailed it.  They’ve got a runaway best seller because they’ve marketed it well to the audience they want as consumers.

An example of a wrongly aimed message?  The 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV.  It was marketed with a strong message of environmental sensitivity and high fuel savings.  For the people who wanted to buy a massive SUV, this message didn’t make sense: If I want to drive an SUV, would the extra 4 miles per gallon really matter to me?  Probably not.  Sales never took off, and most experts point to muddled advertising as the big reason why.

Here’s my point as it relates to the phone calls you are about to make, as well as the message that you design for your program this coming year:

Make sure you and your program develops a message that very clearly matches your actual environment on campus that are true selling points to your intended prospects.

  • Figure out who your audience is, and communicate clearly and directly to them.
  • Don’t try to be something that you aren’t.
  • Find two or three big things that define you and your program.
  • Determine the best language for you to use with your audience (your prospects) based on those big things that you find as positives about your program.
  • Don’t blur your central messages with things that your competitors offer in an attempt to be “just like them”.  Be O.K. with being unique and different from your competition.

Your phone calls that many of you will be making soon are your first opportunity to define yourself to new prospects who are waiting to be told your story.  Make that story you tell simple and effective as you start telling it to them over the phone.

Big ideas and advanced recruiting concepts are what we’ll be talking about at next month’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  Only a few days are left to register, or if you can’t make it then you can get the whole thing on DVD.

Want even more advanced one-on-one help?  Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  For more information on what we do to help coaches, and why it’s effective, click here.

The 6 Secrets to Making GREAT Recruiting Phone CallsMonday, June 21st, 2010

With “first phone calls” looming on the horizon, I thought it would make sense to address some recommended do’s and dont’s for coaches who want to make the most of the incredible opportunity that’s about to be staring them straight in the face:

The opportunity to make a great first impression.

Not too long ago, I had finished-up a session with one of our Total Recruiting Solution plan clients at their campus and was checking emails in an office in the school’s athletic department.  To the office of the left of me was a soccer coach leaving a voicemail for an athlete.  To the right of me was an assistant football coach talking to a prospect.

As they opened their conversations, they made two classic mistakes that they - and lots of other college coaches – have made a hundred times before:  They opened their phone calls with weak, non-specific phrases that were not strong, action-oriented statements.  In the same way that we recommend your letters and emails be original and have a strong opening sentence, the same holds true for your phone call.  Actually, it’s even more important because unlike letters, phone calls do not have the visual component to help make an impact and keep our attention.

The phrases I’m talking about might sound familiar:

  • “I was calling to follow-up on that stuff I sent you…”
  • “I was just calling to see if you had any questions…”
  • “I was checking-in to see if you got that email…”
  • “Hey, I was just following-up to see if…”

Recruiting callsThose sound weak, and don’t set-up the rest of your vitally important recruiting calls for success.  They are weak because they it puts your prospect in COMPLETE control of what happens next, and doesn’t do anything to significantly move the recruiting process forward…especially if you are at the end of the recruiting process.

So what should you do as you prepare to contact a prospect, especially if its the first time you are talking to them like you might be getting ready to do?  Here are a few vital tips that you’ll want to keep in mind the next time you start dialing your new recruits:

  1. Have a purpose. In our study on how prospects decide which coach they’ll listen to, one of the things we uncovered was the importance of being very clear on what a recruited needed to do next, and to clearly communicate whether or not you are serious about them or not.  When you call a prospect, have a clear purpose that guides your conversation with them.  Be specific as to why you are calling, and what you want to talk to them about.
  2. Communicate that purpose. Tell them the reason you are calling, and make it about them.  As we talk about in our popular recruiting how-to guides for college recruiters who want advanced recruiting skills, if you are doing more than 20% of the talking with your prospect on the phone, you are talking to much.  Get to the point, and have a clear purpose for the call that is centered around them.
  3. Make the first 10 seconds of your call incredible. How do you do that?  By scripting an amazing opening as to why you are calling them, and what’s in it for them by engaging in the conversation that’s about to take place.  Are your first 10 seconds incredible?  Are they engaging?  Do they create curiosity and excitement?  Most importantly, do they stand out from the other calls they will be getting from coaches?  If your first 10 seconds aren’t incredible, it’s time to re-work the opening of your prospect call.
  4. Don’t sell, especially at the start of the call. As you start contacting a prospect, they aren’t going to automatically be interested in who you are or what you have to offer them.  That goes for you Division I coaches, as well…some of the most critical comments I’ve heard about what coaches should and should not be doing during their phone conversations have come from D1 football and basketball players.  Even with this elite group, they want the focus to be on them.  They don’t want a sales pitch from you (yet).
  5. If you can share a laugh, you jump to the lead. Study after study tells sociologists that we Americans love to laugh, and are looking for that connection in the people we meet.  We want to enjoy who we’re around, and it’s no different.  If you can create a little levity in the phone call and share a laugh with your prospect, that will go a long way towards making them feel like they know you and like you.
  6. At the end of the call, set-up the next conversation with them. I know that’s not really staying on topic of “starting” the recruiting call the right way, but this is so important I just have to include it.  You MUST end the phone call with a clear idea - both in your mind and in the mind of your prospect – of what comes next.  When will the next call take place?  What needs to happen between then and now?  What is their “to do” list as your recruit?  For the same reason you don’t want to start the call weakly, you don’t want to end the call weakly.

The phone is still one of the main recruiting tools that every college coach uses in their daily search for the best athletes.  It’s also becoming one of the most challenging communication methods because of some of the unique traits of this generation of athletes, how they communicate with coaches, and what they are looking for in a program.

My advice?  Don’t make things harder by a weak start to your first phone call with a prospect.  If you do, it’s an uphill climb to re-gain their attention in the months to come.

Looking for more ways to perfect your recruiting approach for the upcoming year?  Then you need to be at our 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago on July 16-18.  Join coaches from around the country who are there to get the edge they need to make this the best recruiting year ever.

But you need to hurry!  You only have one more week to register!  June 30, 2010 is the deadline.  And, if you can’t make it, no worries…just reserve a copy of the entire conference on DVD and get all the great information for you and your staff.

Encountering Greatness: Remembering My Three Hours with John WoodenMonday, June 21st, 2010

Written by Tom Kelsey, Head Basketball Coach, Bellhaven University

My college coach, Don Meyer, said if in your lifetime you had one person that expected greatness out of you should be thankful. Most people can live their whole lives and never get pushed or driven to the point of their maximum potential. People can live without ever having someone expecting greatness out of them.

In addition to being pushed by towards greatness by someone there is the chance of being around greatness or someone that would be consider to be outstanding. Some people never get to encounter people that are at the top in their chose field. I have spent a lot of my coaching and teaching career seeking out people that are exceptional in their chosen profession. I ask a lot of questions and some people give me a hard time for being so inquisitive, but that is my nature. It must be in the genes because a couple of my own children seem to have the same trait. It has been that way for me been since I was a little kid. Something about me wants to know what makes people tick and especially those that are successful. I try to pass it on to my children and players the lessons I have learned from others. Hopefully one golden nugget can help them on their path of life.

In 1990 I was able to be an assistant coach for Athletes in Action (AIA) basketball team that traveled to Poland and Greece. Mark Gottfried was the head coach of that team. Mark was at that time was the graduate assistant coach at UCLA. We developed a close relationship and our families also became close. Being part of the UCLA family Mark was also beginning to get to know Coach John Wooden fairly well.

John Wooden is the leader in the coaching profession. Being two degrees from him made me feel close to him nonetheless.

Mark would tell me stories about how he and the staff at UCLA would meet with Coach Wooden periodically. He also talked of how he was able to spend some one on one time with Coach Wooden. To me that was not something I could wrap my brain around. Coach Wooden was an icon to all basketball coaches and probably you could say to coaches of all sports in general.

To be that close to Coach Wooden I thought must have been the ultimate in coaching. Mark and I stayed in fairly close contact and one day Mark asked me the date of my birthday. I knew we were close, but guy friends just usually aren’t into sharing birthday gifts. (December 21st for anyone interested). Around the first of December I received a long envelope with Mark’s return address. I’m glad I didn’t just rip into the envelope. Once I opened it up it was an autographed copy of the “Pyramid of Success” by Coach John Wooden. It was like I held the copy in my hand and for a minute couldn’t breathe. I thought how awesome a gift. It was the best birthday gift I had ever received. I couldn’t really tell anyone that because I didn’t want to offend my mother or my wife. I can remember when I opened the package and just sitting there for a few minutes and staring at the autographed Pyramid by Coach Wooden. It was not just any autograph and it was not just any copy of the Pyramid of Success. It was the real deal and signed by the Coach himself. This was something that I could tell was going to a treasure for quite some time. Still have it on my wall in my office and hope if stays there for a long time. It is a cherished possession.

Years later I was an assistant for Mark at Murray State University and at then at the University of Alabama. I had always wanted to go and see Coach Wooden and meet him personally. Mark had said maybe sometime when we were out in California there recruiting we could make it happen. Some trips had come and gone to Los Angeles without seeing Coach Wooden. I never pushed Mark about going to see Coach Wooden and I’m not sure why. For some reason I guess I thought if it was meant to be it would all work out.

We were recruiting a young man from Southern California in the spring of 1999. As we made travel plans to go out for our home visit Mark came into my office a couple of days before the trip and said, “If you can get us into Los Angeles early enough in the day maybe we can go see Coach Wooden before the home visit.”

That’s all I needed to here. Get us there early enough? I would have had us walking there. We had one other stop before we headed to Los Angeles. I had us on the latest flight into Dallas the night before and getting up for the first flight out the next morning for LA. Mark was surprised this was the best way for us to get to LA. When we were getting up the next morning with only a few hours of sleep Mark, asked, “Is the best flights we could get to LA?” It was selective hearing on my part of course. I didn’t say it was the best way I just said was the way we were getting to LA.

When he said get there early to see Coach Wooden that was all I needed to hear. Sleep could come later. Once we landed and got the rental car and drove near Coach Wooden’s condominium I was bugging Mark to call almost with the anxiety of a 7th grader. We called once around 7:45am and no answer. Coach Wooden goes to eat breakfast usually at the same place every day at the same time I learned later. There we were in early from our flight. Mark is tired and I’m anxious. “Call, call, call”, I ‘m telling Mark. It is like two kids in junior high. Mark does not want to keep leaving messages so we wait and wait and wait.

Finally around 9:00am we get in touch with Coach Wooden and head to his home. If  you have read any stories about his home they are true. At the time I had no idea what to expect. What do you expect when you go into the house of a living legend? We walked down the hall toward his condominium and then knocked on the door. There he was. He answered the door alone without the help of anyone else. No maid or butler. Just Coach Wooden, the greatest coach possible of all time at the door for Mark and myself.

Whatever your chosen field or profession and you get to meet the top person in that field imagine how you would go into that meeting. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Billy Graham, any top politician, any top leader in the entertainment field. John Wooden was named by ESPN as the greatest coach of century (1900-1999). As a coach he holds a record that many will feel will not be broken in men’s college basketball. (88 consecutive victories and 10 national championships in 12 years are among the few records that will stay for a long time).

One of the first things I saw once I stepped in the front door was a basketball from one of Coach Meyer’s Lipscomb University basketball camps. Right there was a gold and purple basketball that had the Bison logo and had the phrase “Team Attitude” on the book shelf. Seeing your alma mater’s camp basketball as one of the first thing you see when you walk in made me feel at home right away.  Walking along the hallways you would see a National Championship team photo and then a picture drawn by one of his great grandchildren. You might see a cover photo of Coach Wooden from a Time magazine or Sports Illustrated and then another art project from one of his grandchildren. You had the feel like you were in the house of your grandparents or someone’s grandparents. It never had the feel of someone that was once name the ESPN Greatest Coach or Sports Illustrated Man of the Year.

I looked around all the pictures like most people in that situation would be. Amazed by famous players and teams you have read about and seen on highlights down through the years. Once we sat down in his living room there was large stack of books on the coffee table that were manuscripts from him to hopefully read and even more to endorse. His living room was like a giant library. There were so many books on the shelves and things to read in that small room.

From 9am to 12 noon we sat there and talked about a variety of subjects. Most of the issues were basketball related. We talked and talked and when it slowed down I would ask more questions. Mark was gracefully enough to let me ask a lot of question and more questions and even more questions. You can imagine growing up watching someone that you probably never would have imagined sitting in their living room having a casual conversation. I remember the Notre Dame loss when there streak was broken. I remember the North Carolina State National Semifinal double overtime loss in 1974. I remember him winning his last game vs. Kentucky in 1975. You are sitting with a national hero and you are also in the presence of one of the most God-fearing humble men I have ever met. Still to this day I have a hard time at comprehending all his patience and wisdom.

The one question I recall more that all the others is when I asked Coach Wooden, “What makes a good teacher?” You have to understand Coach Wooden considered that coaching was really teaching. A “teacher” is what he considered himself. He started out as an English teacher (taught 5 classes, as well as was the football coach, basketball coach, baseball coach and track coach) as his first job once he graduated from Purdue. I knew not to ask him what makes a good coach, but by asking what makes a good teacher he might light up and give a more detailed answer. I was sitting to his right on a couch. Mark was more directly in front of him He sat there in what was probably his main chair. While we there as a group it was an almost unreal situation. To coaches it would be like sitting in the Oval Office. You have heard this giant of man so many times and read his books it is hard to imagine you are sitting there with him. Despite all the records and distinguished awards he never had an air of arrogance about him. It was just like sitting in the house of a long lost relative who acts as if he has all the time for you and would sit all day long to visit. He sounded in real life just like he did in the interviews I had seen on TV or had listened to on cassette, cd.

Once I asked the question he didn’t hesitate a second. He grabbed the right arm rest of the chair he was sitting in leaned closer to me and almost in a voice that was not as loud as his real voice, but louder than a whisper said, “a good listener”. You have those moments in time when you ask an older person a question and they have a answer that gives you no chance for a comeback or response. We are given those nuggets of wisdom and at that point there is not a follow up question. I think I hoped Mark would just say something so they silence would be so loud. When he said that there was nothing I could say. I just had to think about the answer and sit on the couch. It was hard to think of a follow up.

When you have three hours with someone famous or considered great you also want to make sure you ask the right questions. I had to make sure not to say the wrong things or step on any toes. He didn’t need me there to tell him how great he was, but I did want to ask some questions about building a program. I read so much about the man I wanted to get some behind the story information. Over all I came out unscathed and didn’t offend him or embarrass Mark.

Over and over I have replayed my question about “what makes a good teacher?” and his reply constantly in my mind. I didn’t go in with a preset list of questions. The question just came up, but to me it was the most important question on what I could take from him. It took me a while to understand what he meant. I have thought about my question and not being able to have a follow up and glad I didn’t follow up because I would have looked probably silly with whatever I said.

“What makes a good teacher?” I thought was going to bring a deep answer. The response I got was deeper and more difficult to carry out: “a good listener.”  People ask about recruiting and how difficult is it in dealing with young student-athletes. My response is if you ask enough questions you will find out what you need to know. Kids will eventually let you know what you need to know. They can play it cool for a while, but they will let you in and give you a couple of key points if you are a good listener. It can save you a lot of time. A kid that is not interested in your program is not worth spending a lot of your time and energy. A kid that has serious interest you will be able to pick up by listening to what they have to say and probably by the questions they ask. If you listen long enough you will find out everything you need to know.

As a parent it can be difficult to get your kids to talk at times. A lot of parents will agree that your kids will want to talk at the most inopportune moments (maybe good for them and bad for you). You have to make time for them. If they don’t open much you have to take whatever chances you can to visit with them whether it fits into your schedule or not. What will your kids say about you as a parent one day? You can fail in some areas, but if you fail in the area of listening I think that is a big one that they remember. As a parent you may not be able to provide everything your kid wants (or needs), but most of us can be good listeners. I think Coach Wooden would say, “A good parent is a good listener.”

As a mate you don’t always feel like talking. Your better half may feel like talking when you are “talked out”. You come home at the end of the day and you are worn out. There are no more words in the tank. That is exactly the time you have to make the time to be a good listener. Maybe a stressful situation at work or with extended family keeps us from being engaged when we get home. The tougher the time the more important it is to make time to be a good listener. I think Coach Wooden would say, “A good husband or wife is a good listener.”

When you have a friend that has just been given the pink slip and is now out of work is when you have to carve out time to make the call, send the text message or email. It is not the time to bury yourself in your cocoon and worry about your own problems. A friend is there to listen to what others have to say. The phone call you get out of the blue from a friend that tells you they are going through a divorce or some other type of family difficulty is calling you for a reason. They picked your number for a reason. You answered for a reason. However they contacted or found you, reached out to you for help is for a reason. They need you because they know you will hear what they have to say. That is when your skills as a listening friend are beyond value. You mean more to that friend that you will ever know. Once you end up on the dialing end of the phone call you will understand. A friend that will listen to another friends problems is more valuable than gold. A friend that calls you because their wife or husband as asked for a divorce called you for a reason. Coach Wooden would say, “A good friend is a good listener.”

I think back to my days as high school teacher and I realize how much more effective I could have been had I been a better listener. There are keys to listening. Understanding the kids you are teaching is so important these days. I sometimes would just want to storm through assignments or lessons plans to get them checked off a list that I never really engaged with the students to listen to them and get a feel if they were tuned in or not. What a mistake to miss out on being taught and being able to teach better by becoming better in the area of listening. There were so many hurting kids in my classes that I didn’t take time to listen and see where I could help.

As a coach we are entrusted with young men from a variety of different backgrounds. Each player comes to us with a vision of how their future is going to look. They have special plans. Their roles will each be unique and how we tailor them to fit our team will determine how successful we can be ultimately as a team. It does not matter how diverse our squad makeup is in a particular season. I know that my job as a head coach comes down to how well I relate with our players. Talent can win a lot of games, but I think over time how well a coach relates to his players is the most important thing in coaching. Now some players won’t let you in initially. You have to earn their trust and trust takes time. Every team is different. I have learned in my over 20 years of coaching that it is the relationships that matter over all the X’s and O’s. Relationships are what is the most important thing and will carry our team. If I can’t relate to my team our chance to be successful is greatly diminished.

If I want to be a good teacher/coach like Coach Wooden talked about I have to be a good listener. Listening can be hard at times, but it is not painful. It does not require a lot of work or extreme amount of hard labor. What is does require is for someone to get out of their comfort zone. I am always looking for ways to get better. Whether reading books, watching tapes, going to clinics or whatever other area can help me become better at what I do as a coach. When I think back to my time with Coach Wooden he gave me the best advice anyone could have given me. It is advice I give others all the time. For some reason hearing it from the Greatest Coach of all time had a little bit extra zing to the message.

I challenge you to be a great listener. If you have never taken the time to read one of Coach Wooden’s books or a book about him take the time to read about ageless wisdom. It has been said. He had more books written about him after the age of 90 than any other person.

“To be a great teacher you have to be a great listener”   – Coach John Wooden

Here are a couple of other quotes from the Coach Wooden that you can share with your family, friends or team:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

” Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.”

“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

“There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.”

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”

“I always tried to make clear that basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins, and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes nowhere.”

Unconscious Recruiting Decisions Your Prospects MakeMonday, June 14th, 2010

Dan Tudor, Selling for Coaches

I often find that the primary thinking of most college coaches when it comes to getting prospects interested in their program could be described as a simple three-step process:

• Throw everything we can at them as soon as possible.
• They focus on one or two big selling points for our school or program.
• Those big selling points compel the prospect to want to come to our program.

Oh, if it were only that simple…

In reality, we’re finding that today’s teenage recruit takes a much more sophisticated approach to identifying with a school and, ultimately, choosing a program.  While they have trouble explaining the process, our research as a part of our On-Campus Workshops around the country and continuing work with our clients shows that their decision making process mirrors that of grown adults.

The best example of this is found in a recent fascinating study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience.  Researchers have shown that we make buying decisions even when we aren’t paying attention to the products, and that electronic observation of brain activity can predict these decisions. Here are the details from the study:

Imagine you are standing at a street with heavy traffic watching someone on the other side of the road. Do you think your brain is implicitly registering your willingness to buy any of the cars passing by outside your focus of attention? To address this question, we measured brain responses to consumer products (cars) in two experimental groups using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Participants in the first group (high attention) were instructed to closely attend to the products and to rate their attractiveness. Participants in the second group (low attention) were distracted from products and their attention was directed elsewhere.

After scanning, participants were asked to state their willingness to buy each product. During the acquisition of neural data, participants were not aware that consumer choices regarding these cars would subsequently be required. Multivariate decoding was then applied to assess the choice-related predictive information encoded in the brain during product exposure in both conditions. Distributed activation patterns in the insula and the medial prefrontal cortex were found to reliably encode subsequent choices in both the high and the low attention group.

Importantly, consumer choices could be predicted equally well in the low attention as in the high attention group. This suggests that neural evaluation of products and associated choice-related processing does not necessarily depend on our processing of available items. Overall, the present findings emphasize the potential of implicit, automatic processes in guiding even important and complex decisions.

So, let’s circle this back to recruiting:

If subtle messages do indeed play a key role in your prospects’ view of you and your program as psychology suggests, what are the most effective ways to reinforce your story to your recruits?

Here are three foundational ideas that we think work for practically any coach, at any college level:

• Consistency. No matter what college staff we happen to be working with, the one consistent measure that we find important to today’s prospect is consistency.  Your message to them has to be consistent, both in timing and in content.  From a timing perspective, we find it is critical that your prospect has some kind of contact from you – either through letters, email, phone call, a visit to your blog, seeing you in person – on a weekly basis.  From a content perspective, consistency is important in your message: You need to make sure you are telling a story that takes them through the recruiting process step-by-step, building on your message and leading them to a decision.  If you’re a coach who has had trouble mastering this aspect of your recruiting approach, as many do, make it a priority to build out a plan for accomplishing this before the next recruiting class is ready to make their decisions.

• Keep it short. What we find works the best in terms of message retention is a shorter, more straight-forward message.  Your prospects have told us that most of the recruiting letters and emails that they open and read are way too long, and centered on all the wrong things (mainly, you, your college, your facilities, your facts and statistics, etc.).  Your messages need to be re-worked so that they are shorter and more easily understood by your prospects.  That enables them to pick-up on those little details that will stick in their mind…and stand out from the rest of the crowd.

• Head towards the edge. It’s safe and comfortable to look and sound like everyone else.  For example, your admissions department’s brochures do a great job of looking exactly like every other college in the country in terms of the photography showing the smiling photos, highlighting your school’s impressive statistics, and bragging about the education that they can deliver. The problem with that?  Every single other admissions department presents the same message.  And, that trickles down to the marketing philosophy of most college coaches.  You head towards the middle, and play it safe.  For 1% of you reading this, you can get away with this because of how your program is performing at the moment.  But for the other 99% of you mere mortals, if you want to get the attention of today’s marketing savvy teenager you’d better say things differently than your competitors.  So, when I advise you to “head towards the edge” I mean that you need to come up with a compelling story, told in a different way, and not be afraid to define yourself so precisely that you will let a few of your prospects know instantly that you aren’t for them.  While you’ll lose a handful of recruits that would have said no eventually anyway, you’ll attract three times more who will gravitate towards your philosophy of being unique and different from everyone else that’s recruiting them.  I’ve seen it work numerous times, for coaches willing to take a leap and tweak their approach to their prospects.

The science backs me up on this way of approaching your prospects.  And, that same science could just hold the key for you and your program making this year’s recruiting class the best ever.

Looking for more great approaches in recruiting?  We’ve collected our best ideas and strategies and produced two recruiting workbooks for advanced college recruiters.  Your competitors have made them part of their coaching library…shouldn’t you?  Click here for all the details.

Using Google Voice to Never Miss a Recruiting CallMonday, June 14th, 2010

Google Voiceby Sean Devlin, Front Rush

One application that we have been using in our office here at Front Rush is Google Voice. The advantage in having a Google Voice number is that it keeps you connected and accessible at all times. It helps to alleviate the fear of missing that key recruit call. It also gives you instant feedback so that if you do, you can get right back to the recruit (assuming that it is within compliance at your level).

Here is how it works:

With Google Voice, you set-up a single phone number so that when called, all of your phones will ring (e.g. Work Phone, Home Phone, Cell Phone, Skype). This way, whether you are in the office or on the road, you are accessible by a single number.

With that said, you can set-up “groups” so that if someone from a particular “group” calls you, then only a particular phone will ring. For example, we use this setting for “coaches” vs “friends” — “coaches” ring all of our phones, and “friends” just our cell.

If for some reason you do miss the call, the caller will go to your custom Google voicemail. The voicemail then gets transcribed and sent to both your cell phone (as an sms) and your email (as an email). From here you can either decide to call back or just delete it (as opposed to calling your voicemail and hitting 3 then 7 or whatever combo you may be using now).

The main negative is that it is still in private beta mode which means that you have to get invited by current users. You can either get invited by Google or by asking a friend who already has Google Voice.

To request an invitation, you can go to https://services.google.com/fb/forms/googlevoiceinvite/

It’s another great free tool from Google, and it can be a big-time help in keeping connected with your recruits!

The technology experts at Front Rush have dozens of tips that they advise their loyal users to utilize in their everyday recruiting.  Front Rush has established itself as the low-cost, easy-to-use web recruiting management program for leading college athletic departments.

Ready to compare what you’re paying for your recruiting management software with Front Rush’s list of features?  Click here to take a look at what they offer.

How to Give Your Prospect a Deadline for DecidingMonday, June 7th, 2010

DeadlineYou’ve seen this scenario play out before:

A great prospect has it down to you and another rival program as their final two choices.  You want to be professional, and give your prospect plenty of room to make their decision without pressure from you.

The other coach takes a different tact: They decide to give the athlete a 48-hour deadline for making a decision, or else they will pull the scholarship.

You know what happens next, right?…

The athlete calls you and lets you know that they chose the other program.  That’s right, they turned down your professional, hands-off, no pressure approach and capitulated to the strong-arm tactics of the other coach and their unfair deadline.

But wait a minute, Coach.  Could it be that the deadline they just gave the recruit – and that the recruit responded to favorably – is part of a “secret formula” that athletes are looking for as a part of the recruiting process?

Possibly, when it’s done correctly.

Why?  It’s a funny thing about deadlines…we all say we don’t like them, but at the end of the day we’d probably admit that we need them.  Basically, they force us to decide.  As adults we don’t always like to do that, and it’s safe to say that a solid majority of your prospects don’t like it either.  What if I make a wrong decision?  What if the coach isn’t as nice as I think she is?  What if I’m missing out on something better from another school?

Here’s another thing about deadlines and recruiting: They work.

They work because there’s momentum pushing a deadline.  There’s a certain energy around deadlines, and it’s an energy that’s almost impossible to ignore.  Ebay auctions almost always have the most activity and bids in the last ten minutes compared to the first ten days.  Same thing about snagging concert tickets, buying a plane ticket at the best price…deadlines are all around us.  And they almost take on a life of their own.

Deadlines also promote excuses and unexplainable reasons for action (or inaction) from your prospects.  If they had two weeks to submit that questionnaire that you asked them to complete, they’ll panic when the last day is coming to an end and their computer just bit the dust.  Never mind the last thirteen days, it’s the last thirteen minutes that they’re focusing on.

And before we’re too hard on the recruits, lets admit that we’re not that good at keeping deadlines as professionals.  If we were good at keeping them, we’d have no problem setting a deadline and then walking in to our our co-workers promising to pay them $50 if we don’t meet the deadline.  But we don’t do that, of course…we just set a new date and push it comfortably to the back-burner.

The bottom line for college coaches who are recruiting today’s teen is this:  Deadlines are a cheap and effective way to get a decision from your prospect.

So, how do we see deadlines being used effectively in our work with colleges around the country?  Here are some specific insights and recommendations for coaches who want to use deadlines in an effective and professional way:

  • First, whether you choose to use deadlines as part of your recruiting strategy or not, understand that your prospect is often searching for a reason to make a final decision.  Sometimes, a deadline is the best option for a confused teenager.
  • Set reasonable deadlines.  A 72-hour deadline after recruiting an athlete and developing a great relationship for the past year is probably fine, if you…
  • Give them a reason for why you need their decision.  Be as specific as possible.  Let them know the reasoning behind your request, and make sure they agree with why the final decision needs to be made.
  • Deadlines given along the way work best.  If you know that two months from now you are going to need a decision, let your prospect know.  Set a deadline that gives them plenty of time to decide, but also lets you know that you’ll have a decision that meets your timeline.
  • The best deadline? One that you get your prospect to set.  Always ask them what they see as the next step in the recruiting process…let them set the agenda.

And if they don’t meet the deadline?  Well, that’s your call, Coach.  I hold the opinion that you need to be prepared to walk away and maintain the integrity of the deadline that you’ve set.  Quite frankly, if your prospect isn’t ready to commit before your deadline, it’s unlikely that they’d commit afterwards.

Is giving a deadline to a prospect the right call in every single recruiting situation?  No.  But for the majority of today’s indecisive teenage student-athletes, it might just be the tool that gets you a few more commits in this upcoming recruiting cycle.

Want outstanding advice on how to get them ready to commit before you give them a deadline?  Make sure you read our two recruiting workbooks for college recruiters.  They are packed with insights and strategies that coaches are using all over the country…and it’s working!  Click here for more information.